Food for my soul

August 2, 2022

I was blessed to be born into a family with Spanish roots, which ultimately made me long to visit Spain. And so, after my 1972 graduation from the Assumption Convent on Herran (now Pedro Gil), then in my mid-teens, my parents arranged for a trip to España.

Curiosity got into my head — I simply wished to learn all I could about the old country. I decided to be enveloped with everything Spain had to offer, for I enjoyed all what I experienced. Lo and behold, what was supposed to be a month’s stay extended to six wonderful years.

Elma Salvador, Filipino baker in Madrid.

 

Cebu-born Alfonso Lujan (left) with his mom Ana Fe and her husband Maxi Lujan.

 

Cebuanas Merlie Zamora and daughter Mia at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guiness Book of World Records.

 

As I settled in Madrid — my temporary home — I took short courses in Spanish and French and taught conversational English.

Soon after, I began to work for a travel agency. And in between the courses and the job, I was able to constantly travel on weekends, near or far. I was living the dream.

 

Photographs by Honey Jarque Loop for the Daily Tribune
Rabo de toro cerdo (oxtail).

 

Patatas Bravas (potatoes with paprica and mayonaise).

Of course, through my travels all over the region, I partook in many a meal of the best Spain had to offer. This fully cemented my love for Spanish food, which we still serve at our home in Cebu.

Who could ever forget that after a long day at the office, weather permitting, the streets would fill up with individuals longing for tapas, mini bite-sized snacks and treats?

The columnist with her sister Ana Fe Lujan.

 

 

And on weekends, it may well be a bar crawl, for groups of families and friends would hop from one that specialized in mushrooms, to another for tortillas, one more for queso, then hopped away for various jamones. They would perhaps end up with seafood.

Other notable dishes included grilled pulpo and shrimps swimming in olive oil and garlic served with crusty bread or a potato casserole.

Pimientos de Padron from the pueblo of Galicia.

 

Horchata, a summer drink made from rice, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla, and fartons, a Valencian bar-shaped sponge cake glazed with sugar.

 

Lobster paella.

 

Morcillas, Spanish blood sausage, is popular throughout Spain.

Close to midnight, when we would retire for home with more than just a smile on our happy faces, one would crave for heirloom recipes passed on through generations.

A standout would be Paella Valenciana, lovingly prepared by my sister Anafe and husband Maxi in their abode in Valencia. It was a dish more than just a meal.

It is only by having these unique food experiences that you can truly discover the full flavors of Spain.


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